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Published: 11 January 2018
Record year for Virginia
The Port of Virginia handled 2.84M TEU in 2017, setting a new record in the process.
The result represents a 7% increase over container volume in 2016, a strong result, and ahead of the growth in container trade itself. The statistics show the highest growth category was the export of empty containers, which jumped nearly 20% to 506,737 TEU. Loaded import container rose a healthy 8.6% to 1.27M TEU, while loaded export containers grew just 0.8% to just over 1M TEU.
Looking at the port’s modal split, rail volumes did not quite keep pace with the 7% growth in overall TEU. Rail containers (not TEU) were up 3.4% to 570,001, but rail containers to the Virginia Inland Port fell 5.3% to 35,738. Barge traffic increased 21% to 49,074 containers, with barge traffic to Virginia’s Richmond Marine Terminal growing 22% to 23,994 containers. Despite the growing use of barge transport total truck containers were up 9% to almost 1M TEU.
“In 2017, we moved 185,000 more TEUs than we did in 2016, which until now, was our highest volume year on record,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “For calendar 2017, we had a perfect streak with every month setting a new month-record, bringing us to a new annual record and did this while undertaking the largest infrastructure project in the port’s history.
“The growth is significant – 15,442 TEUs a month, on average – and we have responded with improved throughput and safety in all facets of the operation. With this level of growth, we are truly solidifying our position as the Mid-Atlantic’s global gateway.”
The port handled 7% more containers while vessel calls dropped 9%, from 1,924 to 1,746 - a difference of 178 vessel calls. This includes some breakbulk vessels, a category where the port registered an 8.5% decline in volume to 187,124t, but the consolidation of services onto bigger ships is clearly evident in Virginia, and it is a trend the VPA expects to continue.
The port is expanding to prepare for the future. “In 2018 we will continue on our forward trajectory. Our focus now is the expansion of Norfolk International Terminals (NIT), taking delivery of the first group of rail-mounted gantry cranes later this month and then bringing the first new stacks at Virginia International Gateway (VIG) online in April. We are moving forward on our wider, deeper, safer initiative that will make the Norfolk Harbour the U.S. East Coast’s deepest and safest harbour. The Port of Virginia brand and its reputation as a world-class port are growing,” The VPA stated.
Converting NIT to a stacking crane operation and expanding VIG are complex projects, and Reinhart noted they will challenge the port to maintain service levels. “As our expansion unfolds, we are operating in a period of transition. We are aware of the risks and are undertaking the necessary planning to maintain our service levels with an emphasis on safety. We know we can always improve and continue to do those things that make us a sustainable business and grow The Port of Virginia.”